One of the looming issues for the University of Wisconsin men’s basketball team after this season is a lack of experienced depth in the frontcourt.
Greg Gard and his staff addressed that issue Monday, at least to some degree, with the addition of a transfer from another Big Ten Conference program. Micah Potter, a 6-foot-9 forward who played the previous two seasons at Ohio State, announced he will enroll at UW for the start of 2018-19 second semester.
Potter will have 1½ seasons of eligibility remaining after sitting out a year, per NCAA rules. But UW almost certainly will apply for a waiver on Potter’s behalf in an attempt to get him on the court for the start of next season instead of having to wait until December 2019.
If Potter wins that appeal, he’d have two seasons of eligibility at UW.
“I’m very excited about going to Wisconsin,” Potter said in a news release from the team. “Pretty much as soon as I got there on my visit, I fell in love with it. It’s hard not to like Madison. It’s beautiful there, and its Wisconsin basketball. You can’t get much better than that.”
Potter, who made an official visit to UW in November after his abrupt departure from Ohio State, chose the Badgers over Vanderbilt. While Potter didn’t put up big numbers in two seasons with the Buckeyes — he averaged 4.1 points and 2.8 rebounds in 59 career games, including 16 starts — the Ohio native will add some experience to a UW frontcourt that loses seniors Ethan Happ, Khalil Iverson and senior forward Charlie Thomas after this season.
“It’s a perfect fit in terms of our system, how he plays, how we play with our bigs and what he can bring to the table as a player,” Gard said in the news release. “When you look at transfers, you have to do your due diligence from a cultural standpoint and make sure they’re going to be about the right things. There’s no doubt Micah is about the team first and he wants to be part of something bigger than himself. He understands the big picture.”
Ohio State announced two days before the start of the 2018-19 regular season that Potter was leaving the program. He had produced 13 points and six rebounds in 10 minutes of an exhibition victory over UNC Pembroke the previous week and was in line to be a key reserve for the Buckeyes this season.
After losing Happ and the others, UW’s only experienced frontcourt players in 2019-20 will be Nate Reuvers, Aleem Ford and Potter. Freshmen Joe Hedstrom and Taylor Currie are redshirting this season while Owen Hamilton, a sophomore walk-on, is sitting out after transferring from Northern Illinois.
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Tyler Wahl, a 6-7 forward from Minnesota and the only member of UW’s 2019 recruiting class to date, also could help out in the frontcourt.
UW still had an open scholarship for this season that had gone unfilled after Andy Van Vliet transferred to William & Mary following last season. Alex Illikainen left the program last month but will remain on scholarship all season.
Fall in poll
UW dropped four spots to No. 16 after its overtime loss at Marquette on Saturday.
The Badgers (8-2) return to play with a game against Savannah State (3-7) at the Kohl Center on Thursday night.
Marquette moved into the poll at No. 21.
Happ was named co-Big Ten Player of the Week after averaging 27.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 2.0 steals in two games. Happ finished with a career-high 34 points in the loss to Marquette.
Happ shared the award with Purdue junior guard Carsen Edwards. It’s the fourth time Happ has earned the award this season, and the second time he’s shared it with Edwards.